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U.S. Adoption Agenda Needs Greater Scrutiny

January 09, 2002

While I realize John Balzar's main point is to criticize the INS, he is using the flaws of that institution to justify ignoring the flaws of another institution--those of the Cambodian legal system ("The U.S. Adoption Snake Pit," Commentary, Jan. 6). If ever there were a snake pit, that's it, and for Balzar to evade the cold, hard truth that a child adopted from Cambodia may have himself or herself been "wheeled and dealed" is simply to deny the reality of modern Cambodia.

For someone concerned about the welfare of children in the adoption system, I would have thought Balzar would want to be more vigilant about how the children came to be in the system in the first place. Apparently, that is not the case. And while I am sympathetic to the frustrations of those trying to adopt in the U.S., perpetuating the theft of, and fraud and brutality on, Cambodian children is hardly the answer.

Sophie Richardson

Charlottesville, Va.

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In his haste to import children for adoption, what Balzar misses is that INS Commissioner James Ziglar is concerned about baby-stealing and brokering. This concern is quickly glossed over by Balzar's desire to fill the demand by U.S. adopters for children.

After I reunited with my natural family, I began to research the $1.4-billion U.S. adoption industry. I have interviewed many U.S. mothers who have lost their children to adoption, and I have yet to meet a mother who does not regret her decision. When I read about a foreign adoption, I know that there is a family, usually an impoverished one, who has also lost a member. Balzar evidently believes that adoptable children are abandoned by parents who couldn't care less about their children. Most parents, foreign or domestic, care about their children and want to raise them.

Balzar's rush to import children for adoption caters more to those who adopt than to the natural parents or children. One source estimated that there are well over 100 potential adopters competing for each infant. The demand is much higher than the supply. What concerns me, however, is the children, who will lose not only their natural families but also their culture. If Balzar and other adopters cared about the children, they would use the $30,000 to $40,000 per adoption to help the children stay in their country with family members.

Tricia Shore

Van Nuys

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